Iraq/Recession

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"Iraq/Recession"

This sounds like an interesting initiative:

The multi-million-dollar Iraq/Recession Campaign, which launches Monday, seeks to remind voters, in the words of organizers, that, “As economic concerns weigh heavily on the minds of Americans, opposition to President Bush’s reckless war in Iraq continues to grow. The massive cost of the war in Iraq – hurtling toward one trillion dollars – has increased demand for a strategy to bring U.S. troops home. The Iraq/Recession Campaign will highlight the majority of Americans who want to see leadership on investing in critical priorities at home and establishing real security throughout the world.”

In addition to John and Elizabeth Edwards, those involved in launching the campaign included Service Employees International Union secretary-treasurer Anna Burger, MoveOn executive director Eli Pariser, VetsVote chairman Jon Soltz, USAction executive director Jeff Blum, Center for American Progress president John Podesta and Americans United for Change president Brad Woodhouse.

The trouble is that, as Paul Krugman has pointed out a few times, the short-term impact of the war is to serve as a form of economic stimulus. Perversely, it might be good for the economy for the war to take a turn for the worse — an uptick in the quantity of vehicles and other military equipment destroyed in Iraq could stimulate orders for replacements.

Which isn’t to say that war is good for the economy. If we could go back in time and invest the hundreds of billions spent in Iraq on something more productive, we’d be in better economic shape today. Alternatively, if we could take the vast sums we’re currently spending in Iraq and somehow frictionlessly transmute that into some kind of better-designed domestic stimulus, that would help the economy over the short run. But in terms of actually available policy options (the time machine would be handy, though) bringing the war to an end, though strategically vital and good for America’s long-term economic outlook, doesn’t seem to me to be something likely to help the country with our short-term economic challenges.

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